Quaker hallowed hush

One-time Quaker Meeting House, Waterford. My poem written from 1971 memories of attending Meeting because it was radically different to liturgical denominations. There was a badminton court in a side room also, which held attraction as well as the “real coffee” (probably Nescafe!)…

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On Sundays we co-eds confidently strode

out granite pillared gates and down the road,

past De La Salle, dogmatic in adherence,

Catholic college, grumpy in appearance;

boasting boys freely mingled, flirted

with fellow form girls, colourful skirted.

 

No crocodile lines, no prefect chaperone,

our travel to church trusted, past old stone

tower and family-owned quayside shops;

bells boomed, chimed the civic clock;

bored by long services, supposedly divine,

sermons irrelevant, no blessings benign.

 

Meeting-house worship I next explored,

long-silence loved, struck kindred chord;

sporadic extempore parables spoken

by either gender, the floor was open

to all,  Friendly-philosophy expounded,

poems recited, no pulpit to be pounded.

 

The Quaker-hallowed hush readily wooed,

tenuous teen belief in God got re-glued;

revered room simple, no decorative mark,

radial-arranged benches, all spartan stark,

less religious service, more co-op class –

and afterward Bewley’s coffee…unsurpassed!

hide and seek among bookcases

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catch dream delightful nasal whiff,

antique calf covers, pungent pages,

sentimental this second-hand sniff,

older books witness to past ages.

 

second-hand bookshop unassuming,

frontage design from yester-year,

author arguments begin booming,

old fashioned, biblio atmosphere.

 

piles of books, passage near-blocked,

some covers warped, or detached,

some printed contents worm-pocked,

older authors not quickly despatched.

 

heritage honoured with due respect,

past authors offered warm embraces,

many ideas on pages freckle-specked

playing hide and seek among bookcases.

Centuries later many still recite

athanasius

 

Ancient holy chants resonate

solemn the Arabic liturgical drone,

heaven’s glory declined to wait

skittish courtyard pigeons long-flown.

 

Robed priests half hidden by haze,

commanding spice-scented rite

Coptic choir sang liturgical praise,

gold ornaments glint in candlelight.

 

Snatch squad failed to find him,

he was spirited from that church;

Did desert ravens feed and mind him?

Did blasphemers long search?

 

Fifteen years long, desert exiled,

returned on dumb donkey seated,

thousands sang, ecstatically smiled,

hosanna-sung, palm-branch greeted.

 

Centuries later many still recite

that Jesus is God: Athanasian Creed;

saving scripture still true and right:

millions nourished by martyrs seed.

 

Lucky the onlooker

photo: Dora Kazmierak  www.instagram.com/dorakazmierak/

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Morning mirror, first critical stare,

then wonder-woven her plaited hair:

I’m gut punched – such creative care.

 

Humming and hawing but never plain,

memorably brushed her gamine mane:

I’m drab dullard, alpha-male brain.

 

Blessed by such girlish grace,

blond strands woven, ply in place:

please turn around, show shy face.

 

Lucky onlooker when braids unbind:

quaking as tumbling tresses unwind,

intoxicated man, unbalanced in mind…